KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new study that got underway in late September is testing a COVID-19 pill that could be an alternative for a shot. Knoxville research companies are participating in the study.

Dr. William Smith, the CEO of AMR and the Medical Director for their Knoxville location says this may be an alternative for those who hate the sight of needles, “The oral vaccine will hopefully generate the same or even a better immune response than the injections do with a hopefully lower side effect profile.”

NOCCR Knoxville and Volunteer Research Group are headquartered inside East Tennessee’s premier research hospital — ideally located for complex clinical trials. They are in phase two of three in the clinical study.

Dr. Smith said, “Phase one, the first people have already received the pills and there have not been any significant side effects.” He added that some of those side effects include headaches and fatigue.

NOCCR Knoxville and Volunteer Research Group are still seeking volunteers for the study. “For the study, people have to be generally healthy and they can’t be overweight, or have lung disease or be amino suppressed.” He adds, “It involves seven on sight visits over 14 months and nine follow up phone calls plus the need to come up to the research site if they have any respiratory symptoms or other symptoms that might suggest COVID.”

The research group hopes the pill will give people longer immunity to the virus and a better response rate against some of the variants. They are several months away from providing their data to the FDA but are hopeful that if it’s approved, the pill would be available to all adults.

“The hope is by sometime next year, that they can have all of the initial research done and approval from the FDA,” said Smith.

Smith and other doctors say a COVID-19 pill could be another way to help fight the spread of the virus. Those who do participate will be compensated he said, “They’re paid $1,525 dollars for all of their time and effort in doing the study.”

Once the study is done in adults, new studies will need to be done for both teens and those 12 and under.